FAQ Party Wall Surveys Surrey
A Building Owner should start planning early, if they are to undertake such works as there is a notice period of one to two months according to the type of work undertaken. If the work undertaken is complex, it may take longer to reach an Award.
To avoid the cost of serving a formal notice, Building Owners are advised to contact their neighbours. Neighbours are less likely to instantly appoint a surveyor in this situation. An experienced party wall surveyor should be consulted when Building Owners work falls within the scope of the Act. If required, a notice can then be drafted by the surveyor.
Jason Edworthy - Experts in Party Wall Surveys
We aim to resolve your issues regarding party wall disputes by quickly coming to an agreement that keeps both parties happy.
Understanding the Party Wall Act (1996)
The Party Wall Act (1996) is:
‘An Act to make provision in respect of party walls, and excavation and construction in proximity to certain buildings or structures; and for connected purposes’.
This means that both the building owner and adjoining owners are protected from possible issues that may arise from the proposed works. The Act exists to protect and enable the building owner so that they can continue work to their property.
The Building Owner must serve notice on the Adjoining Owner and obtain their consent, should work they aim to carry out fall within the scope of the Act. If the Adjoining Owner does not give consent, the parties fall into dispute under the Act; they must then appoint surveyors, to resolve the dispute, using a Party Wall Agreement, (or ‘Award’).
When an Adjoining Owner receives a Party Wall Notice, they have the choice whether to consent or dissent to the notice. If they do not answer the notice with 14 days, the parties are deemed to be in dispute under the act. Each owner must then appoint their own surveyor, to reach an agreement for the Party Wall Award.
When a surveyor acts for both parties, they are said to be ‘Agreed’ and therefore can without bias to regulate matters affecting both parties. It is in the Building Owner’s interest to have a surveyor draft the notice, as this increases their chances of achieving a surveyor adopted as ‘Agreed’. This usually keeps the costs of the project down.
What does an ‘Award’ mean?
An Award is an official document, written and served by designated Surveyors, to resolve disputes between the parties involved, so as to allow the works to continue. Details of how the work is to be carried out and who is liable for any additional costs or fees will be included. Usually, this will be the Building Owner. To avoid future disputes arising after work has been carried out, an Award should include a record of the adjoining property’s condition before work commences.
When should a Notice be sent?
The Act should be invoked whenever building works to adjoining or neighbouring properties include:
- Building a new wall that affects a boundary
- Work on an existing party wall or fence
- Insertion of flashing or weather proofing that involves changes to the wall of an adjoining owner
- Excavation of the wall within 3-6 metres of the adjoining property
- Any works to the connections of a party structure
- Elevating a party wall fence
- Reduction, demolition and reconstruction
- Exposing of party walls
When is a Notice Unnecessary?
When works to a party wall are minimal. For example, this may include:
- Boundary fences, sheds or temporary structures
- Drilling into party walls for fixtures and fittings
What may happen if a Building Owner neglects to send a Notice?
If a Building Owner fails to send a Notice and commences work, the Adjoining Owner may prevent work continuing by seeking a Court Injunction. This may result in the removal of work that has already been undertaken. Failure to issue Notice has often meant courts have favoured the Adjoining Owner meaning legal costs have been awarded against the Building Owner. Claims for damages can also arise from failure to send a Notice. These awards are difficult to defend and often much higher than awards made by surveyors.
What happens if I have been served with a Notice?
You should immediately contact our Surveyors for expert advice, particular to your case. You can appoint us to represent you if you so wish. You have a choice to CONSENT or DISSENT to the Notice. A Schedule of Conditions should be produced, to verify the condition of your property before work commences.
If you choose to DISSENT from the Notice, this will invoke the Party Wall Act, giving you protection and making it easier to recover any incurred losses without necessarily involving the courts. It does not prevent the Building Owner from proceeding with the works.
What if a neighbour has already started work without issuing a Notice?
In this situation, contact us straight away so that we can assess whether a Notice is required. If so, we would advise speaking to your neighbour to request the work be stopped until the issue is resolved. Should you require us to contact your neighbour on your behalf we can do so. We would then seek a court injunction to stop work continuing, if your neighbour refuses to consider the Act.
How long does this procedure usually take?
Initially, the Adjoining Owner has 14 days to CONSENT OR DISSENT to the Notice. Failure to reply would mean a dispute will be deemed. If the Adjoining Owner issues a DISSENT to the Notice, a surveyor is then appointed. This should take approximately 4 weeks. It takes 2 months for the Notice period for party structure works however once an Award is agreed, work can progress immediately.
If you ignore the Party Wall Act, it could severely affect your project resulting in
unwanted delays and unnecessary costs. If you have any doubts, contact us at Jason Edworthy – we could save you time and money.